Daily Archives: May 16, 2004

Pranayama and the Celtic-Vedic Connection

After pondering Peter Beresford Ellis’ introduction to Celtic Myths and Legends, where he postulates an affinity between the Celtic and Vedic cultures, based on their shared common root language, proto-Indo-European, I pulled this earlier poem out and thought of it in a purely Celtic mythos-mindset, as opposed to its original casting as a meditation on Hindu reality.

It seems to me that it can be read as if it were a Druidic meditation without violating any Celto-religious principles. There are definite resonances in my mind, which gives me insight into why the Vedas and Upanishads have always seemed such connecting threads to me, as someone of Celtic descent. I have always been drawn to what I would call Brahma/Dagda, as well as Shiva/Kernunnos (and I think it no accident that both are associated with, and familiar with, venomous snakes). And then there is the Morrigan/Kali connection – nurturing mother up close, but destroying black maelstrom from afar. Add to that the concept of sacred rivers (the Ganges versus the Danube, or River of Danu). Well, I was struck by this notion, particularly the similarity of some of the words between the two languages. And then, this evening, as I was doing a bit of meditation, I realized that “Awen” (pronounced ah-oo-en) and “Om” (pronounced ah-oo-em) are just too similar, in both purpose for recitation and pronunciation, for coincidence.

My questions are these:

Has there been any linguistic study that explores this connection?

Given the number of Celtic-oriented writers who also have an affinity for Vedic (and Upanishadic) literature (Yeats immediately springs to mind), and the similarity of the concepts contained in both Celtic mythology and Hindu mythology (take Kali and the Morrigan, for example), has there been any attempt in the Celtic pagan community to explore the commonalities in a more formal sense?

And three, just as it is complementary to study Japanese and Korean at the same time (the basic differences being vocabulary only), is there any identified benefit in studying Sanskrit as an aid to learning Gaelic, or visa versa?

Much food for thought.

Pranayama

Where am I in all of this confusion?
If I pause and take a moment to breathe,
letting go of this veil of illusion
[that separates (like two different leaves

along two slim branches that stretch their way
in opposite directions, yet never
touch, except through the trunk from which they splay)
with a soft touch easily severing

one’s sense of unity with all living]
just listening to the low, quiet breath
of an opened flower or an old tree,

I recognize myself; my misgivings
about my life’s purpose that make me fear death
fade away. I am at peace, at last free.

Am I just motion in some great chaos?
If I release this cloud from deep inside,
letting the soft flow of air slip across
my tongue and pursed lips, it does not collide

with the not-me of the universe, but
instead melts back into a single stream
of boundless energy that we each cut
and divide into our separate dreams,

imagining that these walls we construct
are so solid, so real, unbreakable.
Yet in a single breath these veils shatter,

our isolation seems to self-destruct,
and those beliefs once so unshakeable
crumble in the still space beyond matter.

04 APR 2003

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Wagner’s House on Lake Lucerne

Away from the bustle of the lakefront trade
across the wide expanse of clouded blue
on a small knot of land pushed out into the bay
behind a copse of trees down the gravel lane –
the house sits small and squat, not much
to look at from the outside, save for the flowerbeds,
its paint a nondescript light brown,
the doors and windows dark
their shades drawn shut to block the light
that seeks to fade and wash away the past.

And there inside, the tools and triumphs
of the man are kept, pristine,
their chronologic sense in tact
supported by small cards, with facts
giving no sense of the great expanse of sound
that must have soaked in every pore
of this house, once. Compared to that experience,
the reverent silence of the current guests

must seem so strange to these thick walls,
their very atoms once beseiged with Music,
day and night. And all the windows closed,
to cloak the rooms with graveyard pall;
the only sound the soothing hiss
of central air pushed through hidden vents.

I longed to touch the discolored keys
of the grand piano trapped behind the guide rope
aching to fill the house with raucous delight
to play so loudly that the tourists
buying chocolates in the square across the lake
crowding past the muraled walls
where Goethe sat impoverished, writing
the Sorrows of Young Werther
would look across the lake and wonder
at the sound, and stop their haggling.

When Goethe met Wagner’s hero, Ludwig,
it was in Switzerland. So strange that now
the house where Richard worked his last
should sound like the world of Beethoven in the end:
filled with the dull roar of silence,
the sounds of life, shouting out across the lake,
filtered through a stifling gauze
that makes the world seem unfit
for heroes that are not dead.

14 MAY 2004

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